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Massive Cross-Party support for Sikh Manifesto: Labour leadership and candidates more supportive than Conservatives, Sikh Fed. UK

May 3, 2015 | By

London: With just a few days to go before the General Election in the UK on 7 May the Sikh community has already made a huge impact based on direct written feedback received from candidates by the Sikh Federation (UK).

The 10-point Sikh Manifesto has already received full support from Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister and leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP). The SNP is predicted to get around 50 MPs and overall become the third largest party. It will have a significant impact on future policies of the UK Government, which bodes well for the Sikh community.

The Times reported on 12 March 2015 that ‘British Sikhs could hold the balance of power in the general election. There are 500,000 Sikhs who can vote in Britain and . . . Sikh votes could make or break a party.’

Apart from the SNP the Sikh Federation (UK) has targeted around 180 candidates in 120 constituencies mainly from the two main parties and obtained their feedback on their support for issues in the Sikh Manifesto. These are candidates from safe seats they are expected to win (e.g. Ealing Southall), marginal seats where the sitting MP is in trouble (e.g. Wolverhampton South West) and seats being closely fought (e.g. Nuneaton) that are likely to be marginal after 7 May. The headline figure is that a staggering 81% of all candidates are backing 9 or more of the 10 issues in the Sikh Manifesto, with Labour on 85% and Conservatives on 64%.

Bhai Amrik Singh said: ‘This shows Gurdwaras, Sikh organisations and individual Sikhs have used the Sikh Manifesto to discuss and explain issues to politicians and pressure them to declare their support. It proves beyond doubt that UK politicians recognise the 10-point Sikh Manifesto as a legitimate set of demands that we can work on together in the next 5 years and make some lasting changes.’

58% of Labour candidates are backing the Sikh Manifesto in full compared to 36% of Conservatives. What appears to be making the difference is the approaches being taken by the leadership of the two main parties, although they still have a few days to reach out to around 35% of Sikh voters that are undecided based on the latest pulse survey carried out by the Sikh Federation (UK).

The Labour Party leader has endorsed the Sikh Manifesto and although he has repeated in the election campaign he does not like making promises and he wants to over perform he has been pressured to promise a prominent site in central London to mark Sikh sacrifices in the First World War. He has also made a partial commitment on the need for a Code of Practice on the 5Ks and Sikh turban and stated that a Labour government would look further into the need for an independent public inquiry regarding UK assistance in the events of 1984. Sikhs on 7 May will be the judge if this is enough of a commitment from the Labour leadership.

The Conservative leader, following poor advice, may regret side-stepping directly endorsing the Sikh Manifesto. Instead he has chosen to make positive comments about Sikhs and the Sikh contribution, but has to date been light on any specific promises. Conservative Central Office have been directing candidates to point out what the Conservatives have achieved in the last five years. The first visit by a sitting PM to Sri Harmandir Sahib, helping resolve the respectful checking of Sikh turbans across European airports, protecting the right of Amritdhari Sikhs to wear the Kirpan at Olympic venues, extending the right to wear Sikh turbans instead of hard hats in the workplace, not just construction sites (although for the first time the law requires hard hats in the armed forces, police forces and fire brigade), celebrating Vaisakhi at No 10 and the Sikh community benefiting from the Conservatives free school policy.

In another significant development 64% of Labour and 36% of Conservative candidates have indicated their full backing for the applicability of self-determination to the Sikhs. Others have also expressed partial backing. Ministers and shadow Ministers are the ones that have been most reluctant to openly give backing to this issue and the call for a UN-led inquiry into the Sikh Genocide in 1984. In private some of them have said they agree with both these issues and they should be in the manifesto and be debated, but are worried by the reaction of India and the possible impact on trade if they are seen as publicly coming out in support.

Bhai Amrik Singh said: ‘This shows UK politicians have an open mind on these vital issues that are often incorrectly seen as contentious. These are primarily issues of basic human rights and when we have talked to politicians about the role of the British government and the Sikh experience post 1947 and after 1984 they increasingly understand why these are fundamentally important issues that must be addressed. Those in the Sikh community that were uncertain on their inclusion, especially the applicability of self-determination to the Sikhs have been proven wrong.’

Since January the Sikh Federation (UK) has commissioned three pulse surveys of 1,500 Sikh voters in a number of key constituencies where the Sikh vote really matters and Labour hope to make gains. The results of the latest pulse survey carried out in the last couple of days is below.


Early January

End of March

Early May









Liberal Democrats
















The latest pulse survey shows with only a few days to go 35% of Sikhs in these key constituencies still remain undecided. Some have commented they have been disappointed the leaders of the two main parties have not made specific pledges towards Sikh issues that they had expected.

Conservatives made the initial gains with certain announcements around the possible Sikh regiment and the visit by the Foreign Secretary to Punjab. April has seen mixed publicity for both party leaders following their visits to Gurdwaras. Labour will be worried the most given the situation in Scotland as they need to gain many of these seats where Sikhs are undecided if they are to form the next government.

Bhai Amrik Singh said: ‘The Labour leadership appear to be gambling that Sikhs will vote for them as their candidates have been very supportive with respect to the Sikh Manifesto, but this may prove not to be enough as pledges by many Conservative candidates are not that far behind in many constituencies apart from some Conservatives like Paul Uppal who makes one mistake after another.’

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